In Australia a small tech company called Launchbox has been launched. Launchbox, as well as seeking to launch real cubesats in low Earth orbit, has developed high altitude balloon kits for schools to emulate their high orbiting products. Flavia, one of the co founders of launchbox described to us what they are now offering to schools. Flavia said, ”
The LaunchBox project aims to make a near space mission as simple as possible to involve primary and secondary school students. It is based on a frame which is very similar to the actual cube satellite in terms of size (10x10mm) and we are currently developing the second generation that will be designed to contain two or three different PCBs depending on the mission planned by the students. The box will have a quarter wave antenna in the top of it for RF.
One of the PCBs includes a telemetry system developed in house with the support of Horus project, an amateur group in South Australia. The first generation of the kit (the one you can see on the website) consists of a GO Pro camera system, a GPS and several sensors. We record temperature, pressure and altitude and we use an Arduino as microprocessor. In the new generation of the kit we are trying to connect the camera module directly to the microcontroller. The microcontroller that we use is an Arduino UNO. The second generation of the kit will be available at the beginning of 2015. There is a cut down system on the board as well. It will be mounted on top of one PCB, together with a radio modulator and a GPS.
We send this kit in the stratosphere with individual school launch or combining several CubeSat kits, i.e. several schools. In both of the cases, our flights enter in the light balloons classification. We use 1 to 2 kg balloons depending of the particular mission.
The balloon launches are an intermediary step to introduce space and engineering concepts to students. Next year LaunchBox will send two real CubeSats in LEO and schools will participate to a competition to have their hardware (a PCB payload) on board of the space mission. “
Flavia Tata Nardini
LaunchBox Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Mobile: (+61) 0424487893